Are some of Britain’s leading brands failing with online user experience?

14 May 2019

The quality of a website and the related user experience is not necessarily down to organisational size, the level of digital marketing budget or the size of the digital team. Even the most well-resourced websites and teams can fail on website fundamentals such as accessibility compliance.

The Q2 2019 UK London-listed PLCs INDEX from Sitemorse – an independent benchmark for websites based on elements such as accessibility compliance, performance and broken links – reveals that some of the UK’s most well-known companies are not taking enough care over the ‘boring basics’ of web management. 

Out of nearly 500 listed companies tracked in the INDEX, well-known brands such as BAE Systems Plc, Sports Direct International Plc, Halfords Group Plc, DFS Furniture Plc and Pets at Home Group Plc, all appear in the bottom 50 with low scores reflecting poor performance across a number of areas.

The Sitemorse score is calculated through the automated testing of website pages carried out by the Sitemorse platform. Actions are identified and then a composite score calculated based on a number of criteria with different weightings. The highest weighting is for “Function diagnostics” that covers issues with broken links, email addresses and metadata.

One of the very worst performers is Marks & Spencer Group Plc who overall appear second to bottom in the rankings with a score of only 1.6 out of 10. This low position is surprising given that Marks & Spencer have recently appointed a new Chief Digital & Data Officer, and also announced a Technology Transformation Programme that will allow M&S to “become a digital-first business and deliver an improvement in customer experience”.  

When teams focus on creating and implementing amazing looking designs and interfaces, it is all too easy to forget or neglect some of the fundamentals that contribute to a good user experience. Thankfully many digital teams are diligently taking care of the ‘boring basics’ by applying content management practices, automated testing, benchmarking and training for content owners and authors.

We raise a glass to Marston’s PLC, the pub and brewery business that again tops the INDEX for London-listed PLCs for another quarter. The company’s website scores a perfect 10 out of 10, an exceptional achievement. Well done to the team. Other notable performers include Berkeley Group Holdings PLC (ranked second for another quarter), and also Greggs PLC, fresh from its success with vegan sausage rolls. 

Meanwhile other teams have been working hard to make improvements, including Great Portland Estates PLC (the most improved site, rising 343 places) and CVC Credit Partners European Opportunities Ltd, smashing into the top ten for the very first time.

Sitemorse CEO Lawrence Shaw commented “The INDEX shows that some PLC digital teams are paying attention to those fundamental areas that impact the user experience. For other companies this should be a wake-up call to examine content management processes and introduce measures such as automated benchmarking. When it comes to digital, Britain’s best-known brands should be leading the way rather than trailing behind.”

Top ten websites

  1. Marston’s PLC
  2. Berkeley Group Holdings PLC
  3. Menzies (John) PLC
  4. Ashmore Group PLC
  5. Henry Boot PLC
  6. Essentra PLC
  7. Aston Martin Lagonda Global Holdings PLC
  8. CVC Credit Partners European Opportunities Ltd
  9. Greggs PLC
  10. Chesnara PLC

Most improved:

  1. Great Portland Estates PLC (rising 343 places)
  2. CVC Credit Partners European Opportunities Ltd (rising 329 places)
  3. Nostrum Oil & Gas PLC (rising 293 places)
  4. Premier Foods PLC (rising 269 places)
  5. Workspace Group PLC (rising 256 places)

View the full results for the Q2 2019 UK London-listed PLCs INDEX.